Moving back into the rental market

6 Things Boomers Should Consider Before Renting

by Paige Estigarribia

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According to a Forbes article published in April of 2014, evidence suggests that Baby Boomers are poised to start selling off larger-scale homes in an effort to seriously downsize. If the gist of the article is true, bigger family "McMansions" may start popping up for sale across the real estate landscape like shells on a beach, as Boomers begin looking to shrink their space and cash in on home equity for a looming retirement. Boomers might start returning to the rental market, too. As Boomers begin combing through downsizing ideas, renting a home or an apartment is a possible option.

And renting definitely has its perks. Depending on your rental agreement, renting usually includes a negotiated lease term, a reason to de-clutter, and generally minor repair costs. If you've found yourself in favor of renting a while over buying something else, here are a few tips to think about as you dive into the rental scene:

1. Decide What You Want Out of a Rental

Depending on where you live, the rental market may have a lot to choose from or not much. Decide what type of housing you want first. Maybe you'd like to try living in a condo? Or maybe you want a small house? Or maybe an apartment or duplex is what you'd like to try? And then decide what extra features you need. Do you need a place that allows pets? Would you prefer something on the ground floor or something that is one-story? Maybe you'd like to live closer to family or closer to town? Make a list of all of the desired qualities that you'd like in your new living space, and you should start thinking about which features are really important. Don't forget to consult your budget to figure out what monthly rent you can comfortably afford.

Related: When Baby Boomers Move Out of the Family Home

2. Think about Your Lease Term and Monthly Payment

Usually lease terms are for a set period of time. Ask yourself, "Can I live here for the required amount of time?" If it's a year, really think about whether you could stay a year. Is it too far from family? Will there be more upkeep or higher bills than you're used to? Is there significant distance from any regular activities like church, your gym, regular meetings? Also, think about that monthly payment and make sure you aren't locking yourself into a lease term that you can't afford for an extended time.

3. Remember the Deposit (and First Month's Rent and Last Month's Rent)

Initially renting a place can sometimes get pretty expensive. Generally, landlords ask for a deposit with first month's rent, last month's rent, and (if you have furry family members) a pet deposit as well. Plus, depending on where you are, landlords sometimes do credit screenings to see your credit rating. Make sure you're financially prepared to pay the deposits and a few rent payments up front, and if you're considering renting, keep an eye on your credit score, too.

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4. Ask Questions

If you've got questions as you look at the property, just ask! Maybe you're thinking about your budget and wondering what current utility bills run? What are long-term plans for the property? Who does the yard maintenance and pays for pest control? If you're wondering, ask! Chances are that you'll be glad you brought it up.

5. Check Out Your Landlord

If you find a place you really like, consider checking the public records (mostly available online) to see if the landlord has a history of problems with previous tenants or repair people. Also, check for any liens against the property that you'll be renting. And look for foreclosure notices on the property. You might even do a general internet search on the landlord to see if anything else comes up.

6. Consider Renter's Insurance

A typical homeowner's policy covers the rental dwelling in case of disaster, but not your personal stuff. If you're worried about replacing your everyday living items in the event of a fire or other disaster at your rental house, then consider getting a renter's insurance policy. There are often different options available with renter's insurance from personal belongings coverage to possible liability provisions and alternative living arrangements too.

Renting a place can be a wonderful alternative to buying a property to downsize. Hopefully these tips can help smooth your transition to your newly rented, smaller space.

Reviewed October 2017

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Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.

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